Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Sandburg Connection by Mark De Castrique

Sam Blackman and his partner, Nakayla Robertson, have a new case.  Having opened a detective agency and riding high on solving several cases in Asheville, NC, they are more than willing to serve as contractors in a medical damages case.  A professor at UNC-Asheville, Janice Wainwright, is sueing the surgeon who performed her back surgery.  She claims that the operation left her in such pain that working is almost impossible.

Sam and Nakayla agree to do surveillance on Janice to see if she is truly disabled, or if they will find her going about her everyday life, lifting heavy objects or performing physical tasks that a person with a valid case couldn't do.  In the case of this surveillance, they follow her to Connemara.  Connemara is the former home of Carl Sandburg, the people's poet, and now a historic landmark.  It is home to the Flat Rock Theatre and near steep hiking trails.  Janice heads up a trail, and sure that this is a breakthrough for the case, Sam follows.  He gets to her location as she screams, falls and is killed.  Was it a slip caused by post-surgery painkillers or did Sam see someone slipping away through the woods after pushing her?

The case is complicated by Janice's daughter, Wendy.  Agreeing to help her, Sam and Nakayla meet her father and aunt, various individuals either in the teaching profession or the arts or interested somehow in Asheville's history.  Each provides a piece of the puzzle.  Can Sam and Nakayla discover what really happened on the mountain that day?

Mark de Castrique grew up in western North Carolina.  He has worked in both television and the film production industry, and still serves as an adjunct professor at UNC-Charlotte.  He has written three Sam Blackman mysteries,  five mysteries in the Burying Barry series and a stand-alone thriller, The 13th Target.  The 13th Target will be reviewed here in the coming weeks.  This book is recommended for mystery fans.  The pace is nice, the characters well-drawn and the kind of people you can imagine meeting and getting to like.

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